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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

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Plot Summary:
"On one last road trip before they're sent to serve in Vietnam, two friends (Handley and Bomer) and their girlfriends (Baird and Brewster) get into an accident that calls their local sheriff (Ermey) to the scene. Thus begins a terrifying experience where the teens are taken to a secluded house of horrors, where a young, would-be killer is being nurtured."

Review by
Ryan McDonald
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Review Date: 11 December 2007 My Rating: out of 5


After a little introductory material concerning how the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (hulking Andrew Bryniarski) ended up the skin-wearing brutish freak we all know and love, as well as how insane Hoyt (the inimitable R. Lee Ermey) became the local lawman, it becomes ‘second verse, same as the first’ (well, actually this is set before the first film…I mean, the remake…well, you get the idea) as we encounter a new bunch of young hotties (led by sexy Jordana Brewster, as well as a Vietnam vet, and his potential draft-dodger brother) who will possibly become victims of the sicko Hewitt family. Oh, and we also find out what happened to Uncle Monty’s legs…and it’s a helluva moment, too. Lee Tergesen plays a biker whose lover becomes a Hewitt victim, and he essentially becomes Scatman Crothers in “The Shining”, without the…er…shining.

Although I rather enjoyed the good-looking “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake, this Jonathan Liebesman prequel is essentially just a reinterpretation of the remake (instead of “Sweet Home Alabama” on the soundtrack, we get “All Right Now” by Free, I kid you not!), with a lot of the near-exact same shots (remember that shot of Biel’s butt as she approaches the house? We get that here…about ten times throughout! I swear the camera was left on the ground throughout the whole film!), but with a larger role for the scene-stealing R. Lee Ermey. By that, I mean his character has more importance to the story (he’s the ringleader), but unfortunately, he’s not given much to actually do (apparently a relative died during filming and scenes were filmed around him whilst he went home. This probably explains a lot, he does seem to disappear for a time on screen), especially towards the end (I did love his line after he kills a local sheriff, unprintable here). Furthermore, the new cast of characters aren’t interesting at all (Brewster’s hot, though, hotter than Jessica Biel from the first film), and since the story’s much the same, it made it even more difficult to care about any of it. It does, however try and tie in a whole Vietnam subtext thing, with Ermey (a real-life Vietnam vet) berating one of the characters for being a draft dodger (the film almost works as a comedy, thanks solely to Ermey). Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out as well as it should have.

The cinematography and production design are really terrific, though the shaky cam/epileptic editing thing is way past annoying, and the whole thing is plagiaristic and unnecessary. I do think that this film has the best “block the door to keep the baddie out” scene I’ve ever come across, though, with an enormously large woman used as a doorstop! Hilarious, stuff, and there’s some quite gruesome moments too. But overall, this was a disappointment, and if you’re looking for any motivation for why these sickos are the way they are, well, unfortunately the film only skims the surface. Talk about false advertising!

Disappointing, but it’s not the worst horror film of recent years (Liberman’s own 'Darkness Falls' was much, much worse), and in fact, better made than many in the heyday of the slasher flick.

Reviewer: Phil Davies Brown @horrorasylum
Location:Scotland, UK
Review Date: 24 October 2006 My Rating: out of 5

The highly anticipated prequel to New Line’s excellent 2003 remake of the horror classic hits UK cinemas today (Friday the 13th of October) and I was surprised to see that it wasn’t exactly what I had been expecting. The film, which was set to reveal events leading to the titular event, actually left me with more questions than it did answers.

The story begins with the birth of Tommy Hewitt (before he was Leatherface) in 1939 (in rather grotesque fashion I might add) before jumping ahead to 1969 where a now 30 year old Tommy is given the sack, as the slaughterhouse where he works is closed down.

The town is all but dead and those inhabitants who remain are all packing up to move to affluent cities. When Tommy snaps and kills his boss, the sheriff informs Tommy’s cousin Charlie that he will have to arrest him. What follows answers a few questions before we meet our protagonists Chrissie, Eric, Dean and Bailey; two young couples on a road trip before the guys go off to war in Vietnam.

Eric is set to return to Vietnam for a second tour of duty and he’s taking his little brother Dean with him. Dean doesn’t want to fight however, so he and girlfriend Bailey plan to escape to Mexico. Bailey confides in Chrissie who gives them her blessing, telling them to escape together, but if that can happen, they’re going to need to escape for real.

The group stops off at a familiar looking general store where they encounter some scary looking bikers, so they leave sharply, only to find one of the bikers tailing them, signalling them to pull over with her shot gun. An accident ensues which sees Chrissie thrown clear of the vehicle and Sheriff Hoyt approaches the scene. As Chrissie watches from the bushes, she witnesses Hoyt kill the female biker and take her friends prisoner. Chrissie realizes that all is not right, and becomes the only hope for her friends survival, but what do you do when there’s no-one to help?

The film retains the gritty aesthetic of its predecessor but sadly doesn’t have any of the shocks or scares which made the 2003 remake such an exciting thrill ride.

The cast are wonderful, as are their respective characters, but they don’t have much to do, as the majority of them are effectively tied up for the duration of the film. There’s no denying that the torture they endure is horrendous (in fact this is the film’s strongest point) but it’s drawn out only to have the majority of them bumped off in the last five minutes in all too easy ways.

The questions which are answered in this film are both simple and effective, but I wanted more. Where were Henrietta and Jedediah? What became of the bullies we keep hearing about who forced Tommy to snap? Just who was at the core of the evil nurture that made him what he is? Hoyt?

In the end, the film is good but it’s not as scary as the previous entry and it’s definitely not the best in the franchise (in my eyes at least) as many people would have you believe.

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